In reading 1 Clement for the first time today (written around AD 96 from Rome to Corinth), I was initially struck by the way in which the heroes of old, in both OT and NT, were lauded only for their humble obedience. I began wondering if Clement would say anything about what has been seen as so central to Paul since the Reformation--justification by faith alone. Then, after Clement rehearses the divine blessings that rested upon priests, Levites, and Davidic kings, he writes this:
Therefore they were all glorified and magnified, not through themselves or their own works [ergon] or the righteous actions [dikaiopragias] which they had produced, but through his will; and therefore we ourselves, who through his will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not justified [dikaioumetha] through ourselves, nor through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or the works [ergon] which we have produced in holiness of heart, but through faith [pisteos], through which the Almighty God has justified [edikaiosen] all people from the beginning of the world; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Clem 32:3-4; my trans.)
That's not Luther. That was written one generation after Paul. And it isn't in a letter moving in a different conceptual world than the NT--say, like 4 Maccabees or Wisdom of Solomon--but a letter chock-full of quotes from the OT as well as the Gospels, Hebrews, and Paul--including Romans. Let's give due weight to the first Christian theologians and pastors, and read Paul accordingly.